Singaporean duo arrested in Abu Dhabi to return to Singapore today

Two Singaporeans, Muhammad Fadli Abdul Rahman and Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, who were arrested and sentenced to a year’s jail in Abu Dhabi earlier this month for "looking feminine" in public, have been released and will be returning to Singapore today.

With the help of the Singapore Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the pair had their sentences reduced. They were fined Dh10,000 (S$3,700) and deported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities, according to a report by Middle Eastern newspaper The National.

Qistina is a transgender woman and her friend, 26-year-old freelance fashion photographer Fadli, were arrested after police stopped them at a shopping mall on Aug 9 in the UAE capital. In the UAE, cross-dressing, being transgender and homosexuality are constituted as crimes, said Todayonline. 

Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan posted a photo and announced this morning that the pair will be returning home today. He also reminded Singaporeans to respect and abide by local laws when travelling abroad. 

At the time of the arrest, Fadli was allegedly wearing a white T-shirt, a bow tie and earrings. While Qistina has not undergone a sex-change operation, she has legally changed her name to that of a woman.

According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson, officials from the Singapore Embassy in Abu Dhabi had earlier met the duo four times “to ensure their continued well-being while in custody.”